FIFA has banned Venold Coombs for two years, as well as imposed a US$40,000 fine on him. (iWN photo)

By E. Glenford Prescott  

President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, Venold Coombs, has labelled as dishonest the practice of some in the media who, according to him, deliberately ignore whatever good is done by the organisation but at the first opportunity are ready to highlight the negative.

He was responding to a report in a local newspaper regarding the opportunity provided to young male and female footballers to pursue studies overseas at Rangers College in Texas, United States.

The paper, Searchlight, which the president accused of apparently having a vendetta against his presidency, had showered praise on veteran football administrator, Ian Sardine for facilitating the break for the players.

However, Coombs indicated that the SVGFF had put everything in place including passages and other intrinsic necessities for the players.

“We did almost everything, including finding accommodation for the person from the US who came here but yet that writer, who spits nothing but negativity about the Federation, never checked to see what we did. Total dishonesty and bad mind.”

The writer of the article said he interviewed Sardine of whose System Three club many of the players are members, and, armed with another salacious negative morsel, reported Sardine as saying that “the SVGFF was not doing enough to get more players out on such educational/football opportunities”.

However, with Coombs’ disclosure the paper, in an apparent desperate effort to save face, gingerly and grudgingly walked back its comments with another article navigated with a sarcasm-laden opening paragraph, said: “The executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) wants it known that the organization had significant input in facilitating the attendance, last August, of nine Vincentian footballers.”

The article went on to say: On September 16, 2016, SEARCHLIGHT’s weekend edition featured nine footballers (four males and five females) who joined three other Vincentians enrolled at the college.

“The nine were Azhino Solomon, Tyrone Tannis, Devon Browne, Kyle Edwards, along with females, Chrislyn Browne, Shiann Perry, Geziel Wilson, Altica Benn and Dari-Anne Duncan.

“They linked up with the trio of Teffie-Ann Browne, Shadel Cyrus and Shelisa Hazell, who went on Rangers College’s roster last year”.

Azhino Solomon one of the players assisted by the SVGFF to study in the United States.
Azhino Solomon one of the players assisted by the SVGFF to study in the United States.

The article then indicated that information was gleaned — not from the president who had made the disclosure, but “an official closely associated with the day-to-day operations of the SVGFF”.

And, according to the article, that person “informed SEARCHLIGHT that the local football organization was pivotal in having all 12 players embark on their enrolment at Rangers College”.

General Secretary Raymond Trimmingham and Administrative Assistant Devron Poyer are the two people charged with the “day-to-day operations of the SVGFF”.

The article said: Preferring not to be identified, the individual revealed that the SVGFF’s secretariat was instrumental in procuring the necessary US visas for the players.

And substantiating president Coombs’ comments, the source is said to have also, indicated to the paper that “the SVGFF paid substantial sums towards the players’ passages, as well as some contingency funds, noting that the first batch of three who left in August 2015 also got help from the SVGFF”.

Coombs pointed out that there are many sports bodies here that are experiencing worst problems but they are not highlighted and he believes that some people have an agenda and it appears that it is impede the progress made under his presidency.

“Athletics, tennis, netball the NOC all have serious problems but have you heard anything on radio or read it in the paper. No. But ask yourself why. And you think the same people who tearing down football aint  know about these problems…of course…..but no….Football is the whipping horse….so that week in week out its football this and football that”.

SVGFF president Venold Coombs greeting young fooballers.
SVGFF president Venold Coombs greeting young fooballers.

Coombs said that no other president has done more to promote and develop the game here than he has and spoke about the age tournaments he has introduced including Under 13, U14, U15, U17, U19 and recently an Under 10.

He said in addition there are the Grassroots coaching programmes and a number of FIFA/CONCACAF training courses, including a recent goalkeeping course, which are all part of the SVGFF development thrust.

Coombs who is serving his second consecutive four-year term said that football is now being played more now than any other time with the Community Inter-league and the National Club Championships, being annual events on the domestic calendar.

The president admits that the SVGFF is not a perfect organisation but some people appear bent on doing everything in their power to hinder the tremendous progress it is making”.